Long Awaited Fruit

I love seeing potential in people. I love picturing how they could flourish as they internalize the Gospel more and more. Our recent trip to Puerto Rico for spring break was a perfect example of getting to see the potential rise, after months, even years of pouring into students.  I wanted to share some of the life-change I’ve seen in some of the students that went, in hopes that you will praise God with Lori and I over their growth (1 Cor 3:6-7—I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.)Image

(Jonason, Kim, Matt, Katelyn, Me, Annie, Rich, and Star (left to right) in Puerto Rico.)

Rich has not been highly involved in Cru@NAU due to the fact that he’s never been a student here. He is actually a train conductor who is now married to Star, who has been highly involved. Rich has grown so much in the last 2 years, having set apart Christ as Lord and persevered through some difficult living situations. It was so fun to see Rich get to share the Gospel for the first time in his life with someone besides a friend.  What has spectacular about it was that the person that Rich talked to made a decision to accept Christ! It was fun to see Rich having fun on his first missions trip in which evangelism was a primary focus.

Rich is married to Star (far right). Star has been involved in our ministry for the past 4 years, even having gone with us to the Dominican Republic on previous spring break trips. On those trips, however, she mainly was asking students about their spiritual backgrounds, not taking the opportunity to share Christ with them, giving them the opportunity to respond. This trip, Star really wanted to take steps of faith to share the Gospel with students and she did so faithfully, leaving the results to God…and loved it!

Annie is like one of our kids. She has wormed into our hearts and we love her deeply. When we first met Annie, she stood behind people in social settings, or would crawl under a blanket or our couch during socials.  Her step of faith during this trip was to initiate conversations with people, which she did. She took steps of faith over and over again, talking to people about their spiritual journey, as well as trying fun new foods and experiences.

We’ve worked with Katelyn the last 4 years and Kim and Jonason the last 2 years. We’ve seen them grow in joy and service. For Jonason and Kim, this was one of the first times on a missions trip, and for Kim, a stretch of faith to speak to people in Spanish, and she did great!

Matt just showed up this semester, and he’s already one of my favorite people! It was so sweet to see him jump right into the social scene of the other students who have known each other for 2+ years. He’s a quality stud who is going to do great things for the Lord.

It’s fun to see a bit of return on the investment into students lives. It’s hard sometimes to see growth in the day by day in the midst of classes, work and the mundane parts of life, but occasionally God gives us a glimpse of what He’s doing in someone’s life to prepare them for a lifetime of life with Him and work for Him.

Thank you to you who have prayed for us, for these students, and who have given sacrificially for us to be able to minister the Gospel to His children in Flagstaff, San Diego, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and wherever else He calls us.

More Reflections of a Foster Mom

Now that it has been a couple months, I have some more thoughts about being a Foster Mom. We can definitely see God’s hand in it all–to grow us and to help these little ones have some stability and experience consistent love and attention. My prayer is that they will continue to grow in the ways we have seen them grow when they leave us.

One thing I did not fully realize was how quickly I would become attached to these children. Even though life is much more chaotic for me with two more little ones, and our house does not always sound peaceful with more little kid arguments than before, I do not want to quickly let these boys go. I love seeing all 5 play well together and starting to share and encourage one another and watch out for one another. It is super sweet.

I also did not expect just how affectionate they are and how much they just want to sit with me and have my individualized attention. They very quickly embraced calling me “Mama Lori,” which is sweet, and they love reading books and giving hugs and sitting on my lap (although the battles with Judah over who gets to sit on my lap are sometimes tiring, especially when it is at church during the service—haha).

Being my first time at this, I am afraid that they will feel confused and abandoned by me when they move on from our home. They are so used to hearing me say I love them, and I just pray that they don’t think that was hollow talk—I do love them so, but I know they will not be with our family long-term, so that is hard.

I think the bottom line is that I have to do what I can and not worry about what I can’t control. I can control whether my parenting is consistent now. I can control how I react to disobedience, and how I help them grow in developmental tasks and learning to care for themselves. I can control the love and affection I pour out on them. I can talk about how I want them to know they are safe here and that we want to bless them and that God loves them and wants them to come to Him just as they are. But ultimately I have to entrust their little lives to God, and pray that He will guide their steps in safety and hope.

Another thing that I have spent significant time thinking about is how kids with Trauma in their lives need special attention and care. While I am trying to treat the foster boys just like I treat my own birth children in many ways, I am giving them an extra dose of gentleness in how I execute discipline. I have realized that often lying is a reaction to a feeling of having no control, and trying to control results.  I have had a no-tolerance stance towards lying with my birth children, but have had to learn with these boys to try to get down to the deeper issues behind the lies before I can just nip them in the bud.  Fear is a strong emotion, and patterns of defensiveness and protection do not disappear overnight.  So compassion and expressing understanding, yet being firm and giving better choices seems to be a better path.  We still do time outs and natural consequences for misbehavior, but I spend more time working through how to calm down and self-soothe, and spend more time talking after a consequence about why it was important and how much they are loved, and why I care more about their growth than about just letting them have what they want. I certainly don’t claim to be doing things just right and am learning day by day, but I am thankful for an extra helping of Grace from the Lord as I seek to direct their little hearts toward health, truth, and wholeness.

I am pulled in so many directions, yet I would not trade this experience. I am confident in God’s sovereignty in each choice we make and am thankful that He is with me as I walk this road of life, work, marriage and parenting.